Lovesick and Dumbfounded
“(The Lord) takes great delight in you…” (Zephaniah 3:17).
With apologies to Zephaniah the prophet and my Hebrew professors, I offer this translation:
The Lord, your God is with you—
your hero, mighty to deliver!
He takes great delight in you.
He is speechless with love for you.
Every time he thinks of you he breaks into joyful song! (Zephaniah 3:17)
I’m awed by the notion that God takes great delight in me, that he breaks into song each time he thinks of my name. But it’s the phrase I render, “He is speechless with love” that dumbfounds me.
The verse is usually translated, “He will be quiet in his love,” or in some translations, “He will quiet you with his love.” But the Hebrew verb does not suggest tranquility. It means, “to be dumb,” or “to be speechless.” And since the verb is in parallel with other verbs that describe God’s emotions (“He takes great delight,” and “He breaks into joyful song”) it must point to what he himself feels.
Could the analogue be a lovesick swain, thunderstruck with love for his beloved, so overcome with affection that he is tongue–tied? Is God, in some inexplicable, anthropopathic way, “struck dumb” with love each time he thinks of me? If so, to be loved like this is, in turn, to be rendered speechless.
Who is it that God so loves? One who is good and true and breathtakingly beautiful? No. One who is unholy and unsightly, but who “takes refuge in the name of the Lord” (Zephaniah 3:12).
 Jenni-Westerman, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.